DECATUR — At an event to recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month, last Friday, Gov. JB Pritzker emphasized his focus on improving the Department of Children and Family Services – a state agency whose purpose is to protect children suspected of being abused.
The agency has been soundly criticized over the past few years as reports of children dying under DCFS' supervision – as did a two year old in February in Decatur, where Pritzker's event was held.
"I am here today because keeping our most vulnerable children safe is a huge priority for me personally and for the state of Illinois," Pritzker said.
Earlier this year, the governor said he wanted to make Illinois "the most progressive state for abortion rights."
Pritzker's comments about "keeping vulnerable children safe" were especially disturbing to the Illinois Family Institute's executive director David E. Smith.
"Keeping our most vulnerable children safe should absolutely be a ‘huge priority’ for the governor of Illinois. Yet stopping child abuse begins by recognizing that human life begins at conception," Smith said.
Pritzker lines up with Planned Parenthood and the state's powerful abortion-advocating campaign supporters, Personal PAC.
"Stopping child abuse requires that we recognize that abortion providers like Planned Parenthood engage in activities that exploit mothers and result in the gruesome death of their unborn children. By ignoring this ultimate child abuse, Illinois officials not only devalue children, but they diminish the importance of caring for children," Smith said.
"We should not be surprised then, to see that as abortion access is expanded in Illinois, so too will we see higher rates of child abuse."
The governor blamed previous administrations for denying the agency the funds they need, suggesting less funds were the reason child abuse crises have not diminished over the years.
"The state agencies and the organizations on the ground that help keep our families together and strong have been decimated," Pritkzer said. "My administration is going to rebuild that infrastructure. It won’t happen overnight. Much of what we’re up against is entrenched and has gone on for far too long. The work ahead will be hard and we will face our fair share of setbacks."
Pritzker said he's spoken with DCFS workers and listened to their concerns. "I’ve seen and heard and felt firsthand their dedication to this work, and I’ve asked for their ideas to move us forward," he said. "I want to be clear, this administration stands with them and together we stand and fight for vulnerable children and families in every corner of this state."
Two weeks ago, Pritzker named former DCFS case manager Marc Smith as director of DCFS. Pritzker promised to add more caseworkers in the upcoming budget, as well as 126 frontline staff and technology.
The governor also lines up with Planned Parenthood's efforts to expand abortion rights in Illinois such as Medicaid funding of abortions by referring to them as "women's health care" issues.